How do I inspect the system when buying a home?
Ideally, if you’re looking at a house to purchase and make your new home, you’d want to find a licensed home inspector or an HVAC technician (like us!) to come and inspect the HVAC system for you.
It’s like paying a mechanic to check out a used car before buying it. That’s the quick and easy way to get it handled and have peace of mind. (Click here to contact us to coordinate with us to do an inspection for you.)
One of the things that makes buying a house stressful is the nagging fear that something will break down soon after moving in. The range won’t heat up, the boiler will start leaking, or the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment will refuse to work, leaving a major hole in the household budget.
Regardless of the home’s age or the condition of the HVAC equipment, you should insist that the seller provide a home warranty to cover unforeseen issues over the next year.
If you notice any problems with the HVAC system layout or the equipment itself as you tour the home, bring up your concerns with the seller.
A few questions to ask the seller:
- What type of HVAC equipment is installed and how old is it? Is it still under warranty?
- What is the HVAC equipment’s brand, efficiency rating, and fuel type?
- Do you have a copy of maintenance and repair records?
- Do you have an HVAC maintenance agreement you can transfer to me if I buy the house?
- Is a programmable thermostat installed?
If you want to get an idea of what you’re dealing with, here are tips on how to inspect the HVAC system in a house:
- Determine how old the system is. The average HVAC system lifespan is about 15 years. Ask the seller to repair or replace the HVAC system if it’s over a decade years old, appears damaged, or suffers from problematic performance. If they don’t want to make the upgrade themselves, ask for an allowance or discounted selling price so you can afford to install new equipment once the house is yours.
- Check the condition of the duct work. Leaky ductwork wastes precious heated and cooled air while meandering duct runs force HVAC equipment to work harder. Check whether the ductwork has any loose connections, visible gaps, torn sections, or other problems.
- Look at the equipment. Does the equipment look like it is in good condition? Does it make odd noises? You probably won’t be able to make an accurate assessment of the system based only on how it looks, but you may notice something that concerns you.
- Look for insulation. It’s difficult to check insulation levels in the walls without professional equipment, but you can peek into the attic as you take a tour. You’re looking for a thick blanket of insulation covering the attic floor. Any ductwork running through the space should also be insulated.
- Note the comfort level of the rooms. Pay attention to the overall comfort level as you move from room to room. If you notice temperature differences, stuffiness, or drafts, there could be something wrong with the HVAC equipment, ductwork, or insulation levels.